The Filtered Excellence: February 16, 2017


Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this week’s picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more.


WATCH THIS:

Crashing.   The unforgiving world of stand up comedy is the subject of the new series starring and executive produced by along with Judd Apatow.  Holmes stars as Pete, a man living a normal, suburban life with his wife and childhood sweetheart Jessica (Lauren Lupkus).  All of that comes crashing down when he comes home early to discover that Jessica’s been having an affair.    Forced to regroup and re-evualate his priorities, Pete goes to New York, where he hopes to fulfill a long time dream of become a stand up comic.  While navigating his way through the comedy circuit, he’s forced to crash on fellow comics and friends’ couches, while learning some very hard lessons about what it takes to make it in comedy and through life.  Holmes is perfect in the title role, using many of his own experiences to capture all of the neurosis and mental challenges comics go through both on and off stage.  The show also has a slew of great guest stars with , , , Rachel Ray, Hannibal Buress, Dave Attell and T.J. MIller all slated to appear throughout the season.  Holmes and Apatow (who directed the 1st and 8th shows) have put together a series that pulls back the curtain to show what it really takes to make us laugh.  Crashing premieres Sunday night at 10:30 Eastern on HBO.  You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.

Big Little Lies.  LIane Moriarty’s best selling novel comes to life in this new 7 part HBO limited series.  Set in Monterey, the show is seen through the eyes of Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), her best friend Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Renata (Laura Dern).  All of them are living what seems to be an ideal lives:  successful marriages, great kids and living in choice homes.  When Madeline decides to show new neighbor Jane (Shailene Woodley) the inner workings of her new hometown, it pulls back the many layers of secrets, betrayals and lies that beyond the surface.  Secrets that ultimately led to murder.  There’s been a lot of hype behind this series and for good reason:  Everyone is in peak form – especially Dern as Renata, the town’s mover and shaker.  Zoe Kravitz, Alexander Skarggard and Adam Scott anchor a strong supporting cast as well.  Given the material and the out of this world setting, Big Little Lies will be the next great series to come out of the HBO canon.  It premieres this Sunday at 9pm Eastern.  You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.

Billions.  The 2nd season of Showtime’s critically acclaimed series returns this weekend.  It picks up in the aftermath of the explosive confrontation between hedge fund titan Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and U.S. Attorney Charles ‘Chuck’ Rhodes, Jr (Paul Giamatti).  But this time it’s Rhodes who is on the defensive – from Axelrod who launches his own legal attack and from his colleagues who now question the tactics and strategies used to bring Axelrod.  But as the two prepare for the next round in their fight, both men must also confront their inner demons in order to move forward with their case – and with their lives.   The timing of this series could not be more perfect, given how Wall Street and political interests have become more intertwined than ever.  Lewis and Giamatti are perfectly cast as the leads displaying confidence, swagger while conveying a sense of quiet desperation to hold onto the very things that got them to this point in their lives. One of TV’s best shows is about to get better.  Season 2 of Billions premieres Sunday night at 10pm Eastern on Showtime.  You can also go to www.sho.com for more information.

Keep Quiet.  The road to redemption is at the heart of this new documentary from Sam Blair and Joseph Martin.  It tells the story of Csanad Szegedi, former Vice President of Hungary’s far-right extremist party and co-founder of the now-banned militia, The Hungarian Guard.  Known for his anti-Semitic comments and a strong stance that the Holocaust did not exist, Szegedi’s world is turned upside down when he discovers that his maternal grandparents were both Jewish, hiding their faith to avoid persecution.  Now ousted out of the party,  Szegedi – with the aid of Rabbi Baruch Oberlander – begins a three year journey to confront, learn and practice his newly discovered faith.  But as his goes through this transformation, there’s skepticism from both his former party and the Hungarian Jewish community about whether or not this change is sincere.  Blair and Martin wonderfully capture the tense political climate, Szegedi’s role in it and the road bumps that he endures as he makes this dramatic, life altering change.  Oberlander serves as both a guide and moral compass, often playing middle man to the forces that question Szegedi’s intentions.  Its a powerful, important film that is needed in such uncertain times.  Keep Quiet opens in select theaters on Friday.  You can go to www.kinolober.com for a complete list of cities, run dates and more information.

You’re Killing Me Susana.  The fish out of water story gets a new spin in this new film from Roberto Sneider.  Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart In The Jungle, The Motorcycle Diaries, Babel, Y Tu Mama Tambien) stars as Eligio, a popular, but narcissistic Mexico City soap star, who comes home (after one of his many affairs) to find that his wife Susana (Veronica Echegui) has left him without saying a word.  After finding out that she’s enrolled in a writing program at Iowa University, Eligio impulsively flies out there with the hope of a reconciliation.  What he’s completely unprepared for is NSA agents, an unforgiving Iowa winter and the discovery that Susana has already moved on in every facet of her life.  When hit with all of these sobering realities, Eligio quickly discovers that its going to take more than charisma and charm to win his wife back.  Bernal, who has been consistently stealing movies for over 15 years, is once again in fine form as the self absorbed soap star, who abruptly realizes how quickly the things that truly matter to him can be taken away.  Echegui is also great as Susana, the long suffering wife eager to find her own voice.  Sneider keeps the pace efficient and effective, capturing both the complicated nuances within a long term relationship as well as Eligio’s attempts to bridge the various cultural gaps.  Its a warm, engaging look at the complexities of love that transcends cultures.  You’re Killing Me Susana opens in New York and L.A this Friday and select theaters nationwide on February 23rd.  You can also go to www.holameixicoff.com for more information.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.  After a brief run in theaters this past fall, this new comprehensive look at the iconic writer, poet, actress and singer premieres on PBS as part of the American Masters series.  Directors Bob Hercules and Rita Colburn had unprecedented access to her archives, allowing them to covers everything from her upbringing in the Depression-era South; her work as a actress and singer, advocating for civil rights here in the States and abroad; and her reading a poem at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton.  The doc also conveys on Angelou turned some of the most painful aspects of her life into art, becoming a voice for those who felt disenfranchised and marginalized .  With great stories and remembrances from her son, Guy Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Cicely Tyson, Louis Gossett, Jr, Alfre Woodward, and Tyler Perry; and loaded with archival footage, Hercules and Whack have crafted the definitive look at a literary and cultural icon.  Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise airs February 21st at 8pm Eastern on PBS.  You can also go to www.pbs.org for more information.

LISTEN TO THIS

Backlash by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.   This Austin based band has been killing audiences with their mix of blues, funk and old school soul for nearly 15 years.  For the 4th album,  Lewis and Co also add Hendrixian hard rock and a punk edge to the musical stew.  Not that they have totally abandoned their funk and soul roots.  Tracks such as ‘Sexual Tension’, ‘Nature’s Natural’ , ‘PTP’ and ‘Lips Of A Loser’ still pack plenty of R&B swagger, with the latter adding strings to compliment and duel with the horns. ‘Freakin’ Out’ sounds like a long lost track from Hendrix’s chitlin’ circuit days while songs such as ‘Shadow People’ and ‘Prison’ wonderfully shows how the connection between the blues and hard rock. Crunchy guitars, tough, well lived vocals, and bright, punchy horns, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears have put together their most expansive, ambitious work to do.  An early contender for one of the best albums of 2017.   Backlash by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.  You can also go to www.blackjoelewis.com for tour dates and additional information.

BUY THIS

Nikon Key Mission 80.  As winter begins to wind down and warmer weather right around the corner, Nikon has a released a series of action cameras that are designed for all of your adventure needs.  The Key Mission 80 is the most compact of the series, which you can attach your belt, backpack or carrying case.  Armed with a high image quality 25mm lens (with f.2.0), its waterproof up to 3 feet, shockproof up to 5 feet and withstand temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.   Download the free SnapBridge app and the shots will automatically transfer to your compatible smart device via the built in Bluetooth (WiFi is also built into the camera).  It can also shoot 1080p Full HD Video, panaromatic shots, black and white, full vivid color photos and yes, it has a 2nd built in camera designed exclusively for selfies.  In short, this camera – which is about the size of a slightly larger stick of gum – not only takes amazing shots and video – it can handle sea, snow, sand and surf with that would usually ruin your phone or DSLR camera.  This one tough little camera than carries the same work load as many of the larger – and more expensive action gear that’s out there.  Compact and consistent, Nikon has put together the ultimate action camera.  The Nikon Key Mission 80 is available now through Amazon and all major camera retailers.  You can also go to www.nikonusua.com for more information.

DO THIS

New York City: Whose Streets?  Our Streets!  New York City 1980-2000.  In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, a new wave of protests and political activism has emerged in New York City and around the country.  But this wave of resistance isn’t new to New York.  This new exhibition showcases the work of 38 photographers who covered the many protests that have happened in NYC over the later part of the 20th Century.  There’s over 66 photos from rallies and protests addressing everything from the AIDS crisis, police brutality, the wars in Central America, gentrification, and much more.  Many of the photographs haven’t been seen since they were used in various publications, while others are being seen for the first time.   Its a stunning exhibit that shows a city being an epicenter in the struggle for human rights.  Whose Streets? Our Streets!  New York City 1980-2000 will be at the Bronx Documentary Center through March 5th.  You can also go to www.bronxdoc.org for more information and for an extensive look at the collection.

Los Angeles: Dre Day.  To mark the birthday of one of the most celebrated producers in hip hop history, Echoplex will once again host an epic all night party.   Local bands and DJ will play N.W.A, solo material, and music that Dre has produced over his extensive career.  It will also be a bit of a history lesson also as DJs will also spin the classic material that Dre sampled to form the foundation for many of those hits.  Given that the party will be on Dre’s home turf, you never know who many stop in to take it up a notch.  Dre Day will be at Echoplex on February 18th.  You can go to www.theecho.com for more information.


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